10 Steps to Host a Successful COVID-friendly Holiday Giving Campaign

10 Steps to Host a Successful COVID-friendly Holiday Giving Campaign

10-Steps to Host a Successful COVID-friendly Holiday Giving Campaign

When you rang in the new year with horns, party hats, big gatherings, and the customary viewing of the ball drop, there was no way for anyone to know that 2020 would bring a pandemic that would change every aspect of life.

For nonprofits, this year has presented unexpected barriers in fundraising, such as canceled fundraising events, a tumultuous economy, and competing with the news cycle and major events on social media and other platforms that you use to get your message across. That makes Holiday giving even more important.

Fundraising during the holiday season includes a wide variety of goals. Some nonprofits use holiday giving to build up external funds when grants fall through or funding gets cut. Others use holiday giving campaigns to raise money for a specific project, such as a new building or to add a new position to the team. And others use holiday giving as a means to save up for specific events or programming coming up in the new year.

For whatever reason your nonprofit create a holiday giving campaign, these steps will help you create a COVID-19 friendly campaign.

Please note that you should perform steps 1-5 virtually.

In this blog, we will cover the following steps:

  1. Create a campaign idea
  2. Create a plan of action and divide responsibilities
  3. Give specific fundraising goals
  4. Create your social media posts
  5. Promoted the campaign through webinars or with the help of community partners
  6. Create a drive-thru or socially distanced element to the campaign
  7. Include your co-workers
  8. Thank donors
  9. Tie up loose ends
  10. Share and updated regarding the status of your campaign

Step 1: Create a campaign idea

The brainstorming process is often the most challenging aspect of creating any campaign. With the zoom fatigue, lack of socialization, and disruption of family traditions, focusing on work is all the more difficult. So, try to get out of your element.

Here are some ideas:

  • Change up your workspace. If you are working from home, work from a different room the day you are creating your campaign. If the weather allows, work outside!
  • Play some fun, holiday-related games via zoom with your team before diving into the gritty details of your campaign. Allow yourself time to breathe and relax.
  • Once you have loosened up, check on on each other and make sure everyone is in a positive headspace to chat about your holiday giving campaign
  • Then, dive into planning!

When planning, there are some important questions to ask yourself, such as what is the demographic your nonprofit serves, who are the donors who have consistently given even during COVID and how can you get them involved, and where are your followers easiest to reach?

Put in the necessary research on the front end of your campaign to make sure it is successful.

Other questions to ask include:

  • When are my followers most active on social media?
  • What platforms do they use the most?
  • What are some ways donors or followers have expressed frustration with engagement?
  • How can I avoid contributing to frustrations?

Lastly in the planning process, ask yourself what the theme of your campaign is and what the specific deliverables are? What dollar amount are you hoping to raise through this campaign?

Weave holiday language into the theme of your campaign, and keep it cheery. For example, you could name your campaign “The 12 Days of Holiday Giving,” or, “Ding Dong Charitably on High,” or “‘Tis the Season to Give.”

Here are 20 Creative Christmas fundraising ideas to get you started, and don’t forget to make alterations for COVID-19 friendliness based on the CDC guidelines in your state.


Step 2: Create a plan of action and divide responsibilities

Once you have a plan of action, spend some time with your team dividing up work so the burden of responsibility doesn’t weigh too heavily on one individual.

Perhaps one individual on your team could create and schedule all social media content. Another person on your team could take on all contact with donors throughout the campaign. If your team is larger, assign another person the task of being the main point of contact for any event elements you include in the campaign.

Use your volunteers for this campaign. Volunteers are passionate about your work, otherwise, they would not serve your organization. Also, they are particularly helpful around the holidays.

If your team is small and if your campaign has tight deadlines and big deliverables, ask your most consistent volunteers to help you out, and give them specific tasks and deadlines, checking in with them at least once a week.

Don’t let volunteers’ actions go unnoticed

Make sure you are thanking your volunteers. Bake them cookies and do a COVID-19 friendly drop off to their door, write thank you notes, or use some internal funds to get them a small gift or gift card.


Step 3: Give specific fundraising goals so your donors are in the loop

If you give donors and supporters achievable, actionable goals, they are more likely to give to the work you are doing! That goes for this Holiday giving campaign.

This is a good time to win back some former donors. Everyone needs a little hope this year, everyone needs to feel like they are a part of creating positivity when the world is faced daily with negativity.

Pro tip: Do research on the donor you are trying to regain and weave this research into your ask.

One way to reach out is via phone or email, but perhaps the most poignant method is to ask the donor for a socially distanced coffee or lunch to touch base with them in person. This would make the donor feel special and feel as if their time is valued.

Donors who were active during the holiday season last year who have not given since that time are people you should reach out to again to ask if they would like to contribute.

Just pick up the phone and call the donors you have lost. Be authentic with them and give them all the reasons they should start giving.

Spend time informing them about your current campaign, what your needs are.

Here is where your research comes in:

  • List specific skills they have that you need for this campaign
  • Give them some ideas of specific ways they can get involved

Step 4: Create your social media posts

If you haven’t already dived into the world of planning platforms, COVID-19 is certainly the time.

According to McKinsey Digital, within the first two months of stay at home orders related to COVID-19, “We. . .vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” Thus, making sure your nonprofit is well equipped with resources to keep you up to date digitally during this time is vital!

You can’t sit in your co-workers’ office and brainstorm for hours, you can’t walk across the hall if you see a mistake in a social media post and ask your colleague to change it.

Planning platforms make collaboration and content editing easy! Planoly, Hootsuite, and Loomly are popular options, but they don’t even scratch the surface of what is available.

Schedule a time to zoom with your team with the specific purpose of going through these platforms and determining which one works best for you. Start a free trial to get you through your holiday giving campaign or implement whatever free options are available.

You need time off, scheduling is your friend

Don’t forget that, even if you aren’t spending time with family this year, your time off is valuable. Take time to recharge, take care of yourself, and celebrate. You deserve it!

christmas giving


Step 5: Promote the campaign through webinars or with the help of community partners

Once you have all your content scheduled out and people are starting to donate, give your campaign an extra boost by asking some key community partners to share your content.

You could even do an Instagram or Facebook takeover with a community partner to help one another have a wider reach in the community!

If you have time, schedule a webinar via Zoom or Microsoft Teams and promote the campaign this way via social media!

In your webinar, play some Zoom or Microsoft friendly ice breaker games such as Zoom Bingo or a Holiday scavenger hunt with community members and donors. Host a Zoom ugly Christmas sweater party. Do something fun to draw people in, and then share about your holiday giving campaign and the help that you need.


Step 6: Create a drive-thru or socially distanced element to the campaign

Everyone needs a break from reality. Staying safe and healthy is important, but including a socially distanced or drive-thru element to your campaign could spark engagement and stir people to join you.

christmas party

Here are some creative ideas while social distancing:

  • Letters to Santa packets: people can drive through and get stationary, maybe a Christmas cookie or two, and a brochure or handout about your organization. You can talk to people who participate in your campaign. Host this outside of your nonprofit’s office.
  • Drive-thru caroling: is there a local church or organization you work with whose choir would come carol for you? Let people know when and where this is happening, and have them drive by! As they drive by, hand them brochures about your organization, and tell them about your campaign.
  • Get creative: there are so many options. A socially distanced cookie exchange, a drive-thru nativity, etc.!

Step 7: Include your co-workers!

One of the biggest drawbacks of working virtually is not interacting with your co-workers on the level you are used to.

You are especially tempted and more likely to silo yourselves during this time and only work with your team.

Make sure to include people who work for your nonprofit who are not in Marketing and Development.

Here are some ideas:

  • Schedule a staff-wide zoom call to share with coworkers about the campaign so they can tell their friends and family about it.
  • Create a committee for your Holiday giving campaign and ask people from different departments to join the committee and help accomplish tasks.
  • Send out weekly updates on the campaign letting staff know how much more money you have until you hit your goal.

Step 8: Thank donors by dropping off goodies!

Speaking of getting your fellow employees involved, perhaps you could ask your Holiday giving committee members to bake goodies to drop off to your donors as a thank you.

Thanking donors is an important piece of donor retention. To make sure that your nonprofit is financially stable, you should thank donors frequently.

Also, thanking donors provides an opportunity to let them know exactly where their dollars or other contributions are going. This will help them grow increasingly more invested in your organization and reassure them that their contributions are having an impact.

Pro tip: Have one person on your team write thank you letters for every in-kind donation received. Have another member on your team write to thank you notes for every money, check, or financial donation received. That way, you always know who is writing for what!

Also, call donors and express your thanks via phone. If you have a Christmas card with your nonprofit’s logo, mail that to donors with a card signed by your whole team and even some volunteers. You could also thank donors publicly via social media.

Obviously, not every individual who donated to your campaign will receive goodies. Maybe just those who donated $500 or more? Or even those who donated $1,000 or more?

For even bigger donors, drop off goodies with other items donated by community partners.


Step 9: Tie up loose ends

Although it is tedious, entering data, writing thank you notes and acknowledging in-kind donations are essential aspects of wrapping up your campaign.

Don’t forget to track data from the webinars or Zoom calls you hosted.

This sounds like a no brainer, but what are ways you can increase your reach in the future through entering data from this campaign?

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask yourself who did you engage with who has not participated in your nonprofit’s work?
  • Make note of those individuals and reach out to them, asking them if they would like to get involved further.
  • Thank your Holiday giving campaign committee for their hard work. Make note of those who participated and seemed passionate about helping with the logistics of your campaign. Perhaps they could further assist you in the future.

Step 10: Share an update regarding the status of your campaign

Give your donors, community members, and staff an update on your campaign. Did you reach your goal? Great! Share that with those who made your COVID-19 friendly Holiday giving the campaign a success.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. May your fundraising be a success as you ring in the New Year!

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